Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:02 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

We were off the turf again on Wednesday to start the week but at least I was prepared for it and it was a pretty decent day with six winners on top on the nine-race card, but the prices were puny. The biggest price among the six winners was $6.80.

We did knock down a $112.00 exacta thanks to 38-1 Astrology Hill, who ran second behind our top pick in the fourth race. The late Pick 4 paid a paltry $31.25 on a $50 cent ticket.

The good news is we may be back on turf today before more rain hits on Friday. The weather will improve for the big day at Belmont Park on Saturday where we have three Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races.

The $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) is the headliner on Saturday and we have a very interesting betting race. Can Diversify run back to his huge effort winning the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 4?

The Rick Violette trainee is going to be the short priced favorite but he faces an intriguing group, three of which have done the majority of their racing overseas.

We all remember Gronkowski, who missed the Kentucky Derby (G1) and then made his U.S. debut in the Belmont Stakes (G1) where he made a good late run at 25-1 to run second to Justify. He then was a disappointing eighth in the Travers (G1).

Mendelssohn was the buzz horse for the Kentucky Derby (G1) in his U.S. debut but finished dead last. He has come back with solid effort sin the Dwyer (G3) and a runner up finish in the Travers.

Then we have Thunder Snow who was rank early and was pulled up in his U.S. debut in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. He has shown some brilliance, winning the Prix Jean Prat (G1) on turf last summer and the Dubai World Cup (G1) on dirt in March, but he does not always show up.

The colt was eighth beaten 13 ¼ lengths in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) back on turf at York in his last outing.

The other Win and You’re In race for the Classic is the $300,000 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita. The race drew six with a showdown between Accelerate and West Coast.

Accelerate has been the best of the handicap division, reeling off four wins in his five starts this year and trouncing the field in the Pacific Classic (G1) by 12 ¼ lengths in his last outing.

West Coast has been on the sidelines since March when he ran second to Thunder Snow in the Dubai World Cup. It is pretty tough to win a Grade 1 race off a six-month layoff. His trainer Bob Baffert has not accomplished that feat in a grand total of seven days, winning last Saturday with McKinzie in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) off the bench.

I will have selections and analysis for several of the big races in Saturday’s column and all the stakes will be in my Best Plays Report.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Belmont Park daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Thursday click here .

Here is the opener from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Clm $25,000N2L (1:30 ET)
#5 Desert Lights 10-1
#6 Single Gem 9-2
#1 La Cat Warrior 5-1
#3 Stronger 5-1

Analysis: Desert Lights looks headed in the right direction and is coming off a runner up finish behind a nine-length winner last out against $16,000 non-winners of two. The winner was Potomac, who came back to beat $35,000 non-winners of three in his next outing on Sept. 19. The ridgling was claimed out of his last outing by the Kantarmaci barn that is 17% winners first off the claim. He makes just his third start since May and if he can move forward off his last effort he can be in the mix in this spot at a decent price. By Desert Party out of a Giant's Causeway mare, he should be able to handle his first trip going long.

Single Gem prompted the early pace, grabbed a short lead and cold not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish at this level going nine furlongs. He was claimed out of the race by the Gullo barn that is 20% winners first off the claim. This guy has landed in the bottom half of the exacta in each of his last three starts and it could be more of the same here.

WIN: #5 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6
TRI: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,2,3,5,6

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 7 Md Sp Wt (4:46 ET)
#3 Tenency 4-1
#5 Ready to Escape 8-5
#4 Bourbon N Rye 3-1
#2 Unsullied 8-1

Analysis: Tenency showed early speed out of the gate, was held back while racing down along the inside which was the place to be that day, Irad try to take him in between foes and could not get through and then weakened late to finish fifth. The gelding showed some promise with a second in his debut here back in May and then faded to finish a well beaten ninth in his second start. A decent breeze at Finger Lakes on Sept. 8 for the Englehart barn. The gelding is out of a Holy Bull mare, her first foal to race. A slight move forward off his last effort may be good enough to beat this weak group of state breds.

Ready to Escape was off a beat slow last out when coming back off a 4 1/2-month layoff and came with a six-wide bid, finishing evenly for third. he raced for purse money only as his entrymate was a late scratch. He showed some ability in his first two starts back in the spring at the Big A, a third in his debut and a runner up finish in his second career outing. He is out of a stakes placed Giant's Causeway mare that has dropped four other foals to race with a pair of winners.

WIN: #3 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 2,3,4,5
TRI: 3,5 / 2,3,4,5 / 2,3,4,5,6

Live Longshots:
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.

Belmont Park
R1: #5 Desert Lights 10-1
R2: #7 Blushing Justine 12-1
R3: #4 Transistor 8-1
R5: #3 The Mason Factor 8-1
R6: #4 Alright Alright 10-1
R7: #2 Unsullied 8-1
R9: #10 Shuffling Madness 12-1
R9: #6 Straightouta Congtin 8-1

Good luck today!

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